Circus Horror

Today in History, July 6, 1944:

The Hartford, Connecticut Circus Fire.

During a performance by Barnum & Bailey Ringling Brother’s Circus, held in a massive tent, the tent suddenly caught fire. The tent had been treated with a mixture to make it waterproof that was also flammable, and the fire spread very quickly and within seconds large flaming sections were falling on the spectators below.

Many managed to escape by cutting holes in the sides of the tent, but when the supporting ropes burned through, the tent poles gave way and the entire structure came down. Between 167 and 169 people were killed and 700 injured, mostly children.